Business & Finance

After a week of negotiations with United Airlines, the Machinists union told its members Friday that agreement on a revised contract "will not be possible" by March 17. That's the deadline set by the carrier for unions to accept $2.56 billion in labor concessions or risk having them imposed by a bankruptcy court. The main sticking points in the negotiations include job security, subcontracting, and United's proposed launch of a low-fare airline.

IBM has yet to comment publicly on a $1 billion lawsuit filed by software developer SCO Group that alleges infringement of the latter's intellectual-property rights on the Unix operating system. The suit could be expanded to include other companies that sell or use Linux, a popular system derived from Unix, the Financial Times reported. SCO is based in Lindon, Utah.

Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant, won approval from European Union regulators to begin marketing Levitra, its rival to Viagra, by the end of this month. Levitra, whose sales are projected to top $1 billion a year, still awaits the OK of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Dissident shareholders at Ocean Spray, the US's top cranberry cooperative, appeared to win a vote Saturday to replace their 15-member board with a 12-person panel regarded as more likely to sell their juice brand to rival Northland Cranberries Inc. Final results are expected tomorrow. Grower-owned Ocean Spray is based in Lakeville, Mass.; Northland in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Despite its struggles in recent years, Ocean Spray late last month rejected Northland's unsolicited $800 million offer.

Bankrupt Federal Mogul Corp. filed a reorganization plan Thursday that would replace its existing stock with a new issue, 50.1 percent of which would be set aside to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars in asbestos claims that forced it into Chapter 11 two years ago. The remainder of the new stock would go to bondholders. The auto-parts supplier is based in Southfield, Mich.

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